The Internet is an unregulated chaos. It’s something everybody knows, sure, but the consequences are far-ranging. Here’s a post at Feministe about a message board at a law school that took photos of attractive female law students and posted them in an online beauty contest, the Hot Law School Women contest.
The original Washington Post article is about a University of Pennsylvania message board frequented by lawyers and prospective lawyers across America:
The law-school board, one of several message boards on AutoAdmit, bills itself as “the most prestigious law school admissions discussion board in the world.” It contains many useful insights on schools and firms. But there are also hundreds of chats posted by anonymous users that feature derisive statements about women, gays, blacks, Asians and Jews. In scores of messages, the users disparage individuals by name or other personally identifying information. Some of the messages included false claims about sexual activity and diseases. To the targets’ dismay, the comments bubble up through the Internet into the public domain via Google’s powerful search engine.
One of the interesting wrinkles is that the Feministe poster, J.F., writes that she has 4,000+ photos on her freely accessible Flickr account. The law school guys took these pictures and placed them on their message board, where many of the comments crossed the line into inappropriate and downright offensive remarks.
Following a Washington Post article about the message board, some remarks appeared about the contest :
-”Dear Nigger Phelps, please die. tyia.” (a thread posted today)
–One of dozens of threads about their contest
-From a thread about the WaPo article: “bah, we’re under the fold. will
someone have to get raped to make it above?” and
“blackpeoplelikeporkchopsbecausetheyareshapedlikeafrica” and “More
evidence that WashPo is liberal? EDIT: and run by jews?”
one of the more profane threads about the contest (tidbit: “If you all
sue, I hope someone raw dogs it right in your ass and kicks you out of
their god damn house. Farthermore, I hope you all don’t get offers @
OCI and have to walk barefoot to liquor store everyday b/c if you
don’t, your husband will beat the shit out of you. EAT AIDS SLUT BAG
This is clearly horrifying stuff, and almost as clearly wrong (if by wrong, we mean, insults and disgusts common sensibilities).
But the interesting thing from an academic point of view is the questions it raises of ethics and copyright.
Definitely something I’ll have to look into.